The Resistance to Stoic Blending

Rhizomata 6 (1):1-23 (2018)
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This paper rehabilitates the Stoic conception of blending from the ground up, by freeing the Stoic conception of body from three interpretive presuppositions. First, the twin hylomorphic presuppositions that where there is body there is matter, and that where there is reason or quality there is an incorporeal. Then, the atomistic presupposition that body is absolutely full and rigid, and the attendant notion that resistance (antitupia) must be ricochet. I argue that once we clear away these presuppositions about body, the foundations of Stoic corporealism fall into place. Body is fundamental (not hylomorphic). The two fundamental principles (archai) are bodies: divine active reason (logos) and passive matter (hulē); and these two bodies are two, not matter and form all over again, nor actual and potential, but agent and patient. The independence of the two archai is no threat to the unity of the cosmos, however, because the Stoic theory of body allows for the complete coextension of the archai. The hylomorphic thinker rightly asks, what relation could be tighter than that of the wax and its shape? The Stoic replies: a causal relation, the interaction of agent and patient completely coextended in a through and through blend.

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Vanessa de Harven
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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